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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The only reason I am writing a review right now, is because of how
stunned I am at most of the user reviews. While its good that you
enjoyed the movie, I am surprised at how most people here are
overlooking some of the pretty terrible choices. I will be going
through what I thought worked, and what kept me from enjoying the
movie. Needless to say; MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.
The good: I like the plot, for the most part. Although I find the idea of a train being humanity last home extremely weird, it makes for a nice backdrop. The tone of the movie reminds me a lot of The Hunger Games. Chris Evans does pretty good. The wagons themselves have amazing character. The Art Director should be praised the most out of the entire film crew.
The bad: Well, let me sum it up in questions. Questions keeping me from loving this: 1. Why divide the train into classes? This makes no sense. The train ecosystem would function fine with some rules regarding population control.
2. Their great plan is to have a regular uprising to kill off people and keeping the population down? WHAT? See my first point.
3. They used to eat people and babies, but are now disgusted by eating protein bars made by cockroaches? How does that work? And furthermore:
4: WHERE did all those bloody cockroaches come from?
5: If you've invented perpetual motion; why the hell use it in a train? Why not use it to power a generator in a camp, or heat a underground city? The train is death on tracks, with ice regularly blocking the path.
6: Why is everyone on this train ready to kill? Seriously, 90% of EVERYONE is ready to throw down here.
7: People take loosing their limbs SHOCKINGLY well in this movie. Like it's just a flesh wound, really.
8: What the hell happened with that one bad guy who got stabbed through his guts and choked? He just gets up? Why did the korean guy stop his girl from stabbing him? And the korean girl later misses him by 7-8 shots? Furthermore: Tilda Swinton gets a knife through the leg, but walks fine right afterwards.
9: Those weird antics of the characters. The woman in the yellow dress licking her blood off her fingers. Tilda Swinton with her strange comedic performance (although I did like the character, I found it a bit distracting), that incredibly weird Korean couple acting all over the place, things like the masked guy just smiling at Evans when they are sitting down. Sometimes I felt like I was watching Charlie and the chocolate factory.
10: The starved people of the tail takes out an army of axe wielding fighters with night vision? After apparently yelling for help through the entire train, and a kid lighting a torch, and running up to them in no time? Stretching it thin, movie!
11: The soldiers had bullets, but they weren't using them at the ONE PLACE they needed bullets? Are you serious??
12: The shootout between Chris Evans and what I can only assume was Terminator. On opposite sides of the train, probably 1000ft from each other. Sniping with a submachine gun. Through a blizzard. Nice aim there, fellas.
13: Mr. Terminator shooting his comrades all the time. Seriously. What was to be gained from that? He did it several times. Who is this guy??
14: The only way the train can function is to stuff small kids down small holes to keep the engine running? Really? Was the train designed to stuff small kids down there, or did it just appear to be the perfect solution? How convenient.
15: The wagon closest to the engine is the RAVE-CLUB where all the freaks go to party? Incidentally, the elementary school is next to the slaughterhouse.
16: There is no policy on drugs on this finely tuned train? Everyone just goes buck wild with this incredibly potent drug next to the engine room? And furthermore...
17: The drug of choice is basically C4? And it just lies around everywhere - again - next to the engine room?
18: Why not pay attention to what the korean guy is doing to open the doors and then open them themselves instead of having him slow them down?
19: The people with axes putting fish blood on their weapons before fighting? That was random.
20: The other wagons are TOTALLY unaffected by the explosion in the first wagons. Wow. They don't really notice until they derail. What a masterfully crafted train.
21: I know it fits with his story, but did Mr. Evans really need to sacrifice his arm to pull that kid out? He could probably stop the machine with something else than a limb and take better care of that child.
22: The people who jumped off the train still haven't been covered up by snow after 15 years in a never-ending blizzard?
Those were some of the things that stopped me from loving this movie. It just got too dumb. There was definitely something here, and I feel this could have become an excellent movie with more thought put into it. It came off extremely unrealistic. And in sci-fi, it's all about fooling the audience into thinking it could have happened. That's the "science" part.
All in all though - probably an entertaining movie if you'e not a nitpicker like me. Thankfully a lot of you aren't :)
EDIT: Someone corrected me in that the couple were korean, and that one of the bad guys never takes a bullet, like I thought he did. Sorry about that, but it still seems far fetched.
Absolutely amazing. A cinematic microcosm of society. For those of you
uninterested in topics like '1984' and 'Animal Farm', watch this film
for a hazard course in understanding the human condition. From start to
end you see a small-scale depiction of society from it's most basic
'proletariat' level, right up to the elite, in perfect order. And we
see the evolution of civilisation from simple beginnings to science,
education, quality, luxury, then hedonism, wastefulness and eventual
demise, in exactly that order.
All of that can be overlooked, however, if you're just the average movie-goer who simply wants a good story with a hero, an adventure and an end goal. In which case I say the film is a good one but nothing special in that respect. Certainly there were parts where I thought, "eh?", until it clicked later that it was all part of the Director's greater cinematic design.
But for the arty film student types, this film is sure to be the topic of many, many essays for years to come.
Clearly every part of the film was deliberate - every shot, every line of script, every item in the background. It was true art. None of that quick-buck profit-incentive Hollywood stuff.
In conclusion I recommend this film to everyone, particularly people who want to learn something or gain some insight from what they watch. For the everyday movie-lover, go into this with an open mind and have a really long think about how you can compare it to the world today.
Top stuff, 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I actually like this genre of film, but this was a lousy attempt from
this studio. In my opinion there simply are to many things we as
viewers are expected to go along with. Without any explanation. Don't
agree with me? I will give you some examples then (MAJOR SPOILERS);
1. Why did they need to eat each other at the start of their trip, and then suddenly this protein bar-machine appeared. It seems hard to accept that the magnificent Wilford would make this train with room for this low-class people, but with no way to feed them. And how did they make this bug-protein-bar machine while traveling at such speeds?
2. Having this class-system and using riots as a way to kill some of the population, seems a very cruel and inefficient way to keep the trains population regulated. And not to mention risky, after all this "grand plan" is what sets in motion the events that lead to the trains demise. There are tons of other option that history has shown is better ways to handle situations like this. And what about just plain simple birth regulations?
3. What does the engine run on? Hopes and dreams? explain please. Nuff said.
4. How those no part of the railway the train runs on gets destroyed or needs fixing during this 18 year long train ride? In an such extreme climate some part of the rails are bound to be somewhat damaged.
5. At the end of the movie they step outside and into the cold "harsh" weather. And let me just tell you. We call that summer in Norway, not an apocalyptic freezing weather. There truly need to be some better way to deal with the problem of this "extreme" weather. (and yes i know it was the middle of the day and the weather was nice, and maybe its worse at other times and blah blah, but still, doesn't seam to make sense.)'
6. The peoples behavior wasn't believable either. First of all, we need to remember that it was an closed environment, and people in the different classes all knew each other. And when after 18 years on this train some of the upper-class people see these dirty, bloody and new faces, they don't seem to give one single f**k. Not one single one of them. And why did Curtis choose to destroy the engine, the only thing that was keeping all the people on the train alive, to temporarily save one kid? He basically doomed the whole train, including the child he just saved. (And don't get me started on how he did it, jeezez.)
The list of these "What?!" moments just goes on and on and on. Some are short and brief, but others (like the examples i have given) are major movie-enjoyment-destroying. The sum of all these moments just leaves you with an bad feeling when you are finished watching the film.
BUT, the movie ain't all bad. This fictional setting of the film, makes for a type of film that is enjoyable. But often it boils down to; Are you able to believe the case that the film presents, or do you find it just to unrealistic to bear with. At the end of the movie, where all was revealed, the "mind blown"-moment. I just sat there with to many questions and a big "what?!"- expression. And not the "I-just-got-my- - head-exploded-"What?!", but the what just happened "what". And that the reasons why all this things had happened was the general premise of population control, wasn't mind blowing material, if you ask me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very disappointed would be a good summation for this film especially
considering it's early rating here. Once the review process has
exhausted the fans and people who haven't seen or heard of the comic
are reviewing it I expect it'll fall like a stone.
The major flaws as I see them (spoiler alert!). The whole concept of a train being the last salvation of mankind on a frozen planet is just beyond belief. Where does the train stop for servicing to it's undercarriage etc. without any stations? Who maintains the track? An engine that runs on magic as much as anything! Why not make it nuclear or at least something believable. If you were to set up a society in a closed environment why wouldn't everyone have a purpose with controlled breeding rather than be lugging around many people with no contribution to the whole. Why would you engineer a rebellion to control population? There are many better ways. Why would you expect some rebel to want your top job doing things your way? The very word rebel suggests that a change of system is wanted.
Major flaws aside there are other issues with the film. The characters are not believable. They belong in the comic it's based on. Nobody has made any effort to translate them to film or realised that some adjustments are even necessary. Film requires a different approach and nobody who made this film understands that. A great example of how to do it right is Dredd. This is a great example of how to do it wrong. The film tries to open up great philosophical issues but fails to do so due to the setting they are working in, ie a comic book. You continuously think that none of this is real and so pay no attention to the great moral dilemmas they are trying to foist on you. It's akin to being lectured by a 10 year old.
On top of the major flaws there are many minor ones. I'll just give the one example of the hero of the piece stuffing his arm in a moving machine to save one child (didn't bother to look for anything better suited to the task such as a steel bar) whilst then dooming that child to death with everyone-else.
The one redeeming quality of the film is it's well made. It's not remotely enough to save it from being a turkey though.
¨Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe.¨
I was pleasantly surprised at how well Korean director, Joon-ho Bong, made the transition to this his first English language film because the style and tone of the film still felt entirely Korean despite starring some well known Hollywood actors. I enjoyed this film so much that I ended up watching it twice and that is something I rarely do. Based on the French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige written by Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer is an ambitious dystopian sci-fi film that despite having a very absurd premise works really well thanks to Bong's direction. It has some great performances with memorable characters, several exciting action scenes mixed with bizarre comedic moments, and a thought provoking metaphor on classicism. It is a bleak film but Bong handled the material so well that it kept me engaged and interested. Unfortunately the film does suffer from a rather unconvincing final act, but for most of its running time I was so entertained that I wasn't too disappointed.
Snowpiercer takes place in 2031 after a failed global-warming experiment has frozen all of Earth and wiped out all life. The only survivors are the passengers of a super train traveling across the globe with a perpetual-motion engine. Designed by Wilford, an engineer who knew the experiment would fail, the train has been running for 17 straight years and a social class system has developed as the passengers of the rear end live in extremely poor conditions. Here we are introduced to a young man named Curtis (Chris Evans) who is trying to come up with a plan to get past all the security guards in order to reach the front section where Wilford is presumed to be. He isn't alone on this quest as most of the passengers are upset for the abuse they've suffered and the extreme poor conditions in which they are forced to live in. A wise old man named Gilliam (John Hurt) who helped Wilford design the engine, has been helping Curtis rally the men together. Curtis's good friend, Edgar (Jamie Bell), is also awaiting the moment to begin their revolution as things begin to get worse once the guards take a few kids away from them. Tanya (Octavia Spencer) and Andrew (Ewen Bremner) are among the victims whose children have been taken away from them so they are also eager to attack. The first step of the plan involves freeing Namgoong (Song Kang-ho), a prisoner who has a special gift for unlocking the doors to each section, but the task won't be easy as the guards will do what it takes to make sure they stay at the rear section of the train.
Bong has directed several successful Korean films like The Host and Memories of a Murder, and in his first English language film his style remains untouched. Despite having some scenes that borderline in the ridiculous he somehow manages to balance those moments really well. For example there is this huge action scene that he has set up between the rebels and the guards who are awaiting them with axes. The bloody and violent confrontation begins, only to be interrupted as the train is approaching a bridge which serves as a landmark for the New Year. The fighting stops for a few seconds as everyone begins the countdown and admires the view of the outside world from inside the train, then the violence and mayhem continue. There are several moments like this where Bong perfectly balances these gorgeously crafted choreographed scenes with moments of quirky comedy and twisted sense of humor. The best example of this type of humor comes from the two characters played by Tilda Swinton (who is unrecognizable in this film) and Alison Pill who are terrific and steal the few scenes they are in. I really loved that classroom scene that felt completely out of place with the dark tail section of the train. I think it was those goofy moments that I enjoyed the most in this film. It was a great sensory experience to get to follow these characters through each section of the train and I have to give Bong credit for his visionary style because as our heroes progress to the front of the train things begin to get more and more bizarre and you never know what to expect. The film is short of being a masterpiece because the final 30 minutes are disappointing, but as a social satire Snowpiercer worked better than other recent sci-fi films like Elysium. It is a very weird and strange film, but it is really good and I enjoyed it even more on my second viewing.
First I want to say that this is one of the best (and entertaining as
hell!) social commentary films I've seen since Terry Gilliam's Brazil
and Paul Verhoeven's Robocop.
Yes there are a lot of plot points that don't make much sense if looked at from the perspective of our "reality."
But this film does NOT aim to be "realistic." In fact, I'd say the goal of the director is to make it as "surrealistic" as possible.
And I applaud him to be so successful in that: in many moments during the film, I felt I was experiencing a fevered dream of a fried fish. -- That's how insane this film is.
It takes great genius to present something as insane as the plot of Snowpiercer.
This film will be remembered, analyzed and revered for a long, long time.
The icing on the cake is that the social commentary content is actually intriguing. The film is decent enough to leave enough ambiguity so that the audiences can make their own conclusions.
9 out of 10.
No spoilers here !
Remember Metropolis, the great silent film by Fritz Lang, and probably the most revered science-fiction film of all times ? Well, if Snowpiercer is not such an absolute masterpiece, I do believe it's the best reiteration of the same concept that made Lang's film so unique : asking questions about the condition of mankind in a futuristic society, and how it does and does not evolve as compared with current times.
It's good that not all near-blockbuster scale sci-fi movies do not come out of Hollywood anymore. Snowpiercer is based on a long-forgotten 70's French graphic novel. The Korean director got his hands on a bootleg translation in a Seoul bookshop while filming The Host and got totally hooked. The end product is a French-Korean production, in the making of which one of the authors of the original graphic novel got directly involved.
The plot is simple : ecologist freaks have pushed governments to unleash a gas in the atmosphere to control global warming, this proved so effective that the world is now a standalone, snow-covered giant ice cap. The only survivors are all aboard a revolutionary train that goes on and on making loops around the world. It's like Noah's Ark, but including the politics that come with it : first class, second class, workers, fraudsters, the ticket is your fate - for generations. And the consequences are extreme, to such and extent that you can't conceive. Prepare to be shocked at times. Imagine the vertical multistoreyed humanity of Lang's Metropolis, the horizontal way. Some of the tail section fraudsters decide to rebel against their condition and progress to the head car of the train regardless of the risks. Every car they go through bears its grotesque and mind-bending surprises. And tells us more about how this society actually works and what it relies on.
This film has style. Even though it reminds of Gilliam (see 12 monkeys) and Matsumoto (Galaxy Express), there is real personality and originality. CGI is limited to a few breathtaking scenes that really add up to the storyline. Acting is mostly excellent, especially by Ed Harris and John Hurt. But most importantly, this film triggers reflection, soul-searching and debate like true Sci-Fi gems should. Unlike most Hollywood movies, it is not Manichaean : the story and morals are complex and debatable. You heart keeps swinging for scene to scene as you learn more. The ending asks a lot of questions.
All in all, when the end credits start rolling, it's a film you want to rewatch, not because you haven't understood, but because you want to understand more, and experience more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Third class on a train never felt so bad. No private rooms or showers,
and just one item on the menu. Don't even think about filing a
complaint with the conductor's black-clad goon squad; they don't take
kindly to dissent. But that's not the worst of it: you'll never get off
this train, since it comprises the only habitable environment left on
earth after global warming countermeasures triggered a new ice age.
While the setting of Bong Joon-ho's film incorporates a few original ideas, much will seem familiar to the post-apocalyptic film audience. Society is divided between the first class minority, with their fine tailors and cocktail parties, and the downtrodden masses, with little more than the rags on their backs they can call their own. Of course, revolution is in order, but the plan for regicide will require a trip down the length of the train, with a few bloody battles and the discovery of what life is really like "on the other side" filling in the remainder of the story.
Class struggle is naturally the topic of so many sci-fi films, from classics like "Fahrenheit 451" and "1984" to contemporary derivatives such as "District 9" and "Elysium." So taking up such a topic is a little like opening a hamburger joint -- you really have to do it well, and ideally provide your own twist, to have any hope of impressing your clients.
Unfortunately "Snowpiercer" follows the tried-and-true formulas a little too closely to inspire, and it's hard not to feel like we've been served a Big Mac of a film. There are caricatures, not characters: the hero who doubts himself, the naive sidekick who worships his idol, the wise octogenarian guiding the flock. There are even a couple of video-game references thrown in for the kids in the forms of a martial arts expert and the "boss" who comes back from the dead. We share in the characters' wonder about the extravagant lives of passengers in the front cars, but little else drives the plot. The script reads like something written by a non-native speaker, quite honestly, and, as with other films that aspire to the demands of an international box office, the writers settle for brevity, simplicity, and imitation where tactfulness and originality were called for.
I didn't see Chris Evans in "Captain America," but I imagine that your appraisal of his acting in that movie might go a long way in determining whether you like his role in this one. In my mind, Evans does little more in "Snowpiercer" than dutifully recite his lines and chop down some bad guys, but judging from box office returns these days, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
For those who want to step outside the boundaries of Hollywood, I heartily recommend you skip this film in favor of Bong's earlier Korean works, especially "Barking Dogs Never Bite," "Memories of Murder," and "Mother." Those films are wonderfully crafted windows onto Korean society that touch upon real divides between class and generation instead of the roughly hewn metaphors we endure in "Snowpiercer."
After graping the global movie universe's attention with "The host"
(2006), Korean director Bong Joon-ho serves up his first offer in the
English language with "Snowpiercer", a futuristic, sci-fi fable as well
as a hybrid of art house and mainstream thriller.
The micro depiction of the macro human race is through the titular vehicle (literally meant) a train that circles the post-apocalyptic world, a frozen hell resulted from the backfire of an over-executed maneuver in battling global warming. Secluded from the outer world, the survivors are stratified by social class, the highest at the front (a perpetual-motion engine) and the lowest at the back. The linear (in more ways than one) story is quite simple, the underprivileged bunch at the back fighting its way, car after car, all the way to the front to gain control of their own destiny. Through the allegory progression, the audience witnesses a rich pageantry of environments rough workplace, lush greenhouse, giant aquarium, plush lounge, and more.
The impressive cast is well assembled. Chris Evans sheds his "All American" heartthrob image to play this perhaps his first heavy-weight role as an earthy leader of the revolution. John Hurt is the semi-disabled wise old man, a rich reservoir of knowledge. Other key members of the group include Jamie Bell as the young follower, Octavia Spencer as a mother searching for a missing child "drafted" by the ruling class for some obscure purpose, and Song Kang-ho as a Korean security expert. The show-stealing personas, however, are on the opposite side. Most delicious is Tilda Swinton, barely recognizable with ingenious makeup (essentially of a dental nature) playing the spokesperson for the dictator. Allison Pill (so impressive as Zelda Fitzgerald in "Midnight in Paris") is another manifestation of eccentricity, a pregnant kindergarten teacher, all sweetness until she produces a gun and starts shooting. The dictator is competently played by Ed Harris.
The movie is quite long (a little over 2 hours) and does not hurry itself as most blockbuster thrillers would do. Instead, it takes its time with careful, well-crafted character development. But it does hold the audience's attention with excellent acting and artsy photography.
Wow, i honestly did not expect much from this movie from the trailer.
The message seemed one dimensional, and the whole 'action' bit from the
trailer wasn't really that impressing. Only thing that dragged me to
the theater was the director's name (also the great cast), and i am
happy to say that i'm pleasantly blown away by director Bong once
again. The movie looked great, the first half was beyond thrilling, the
acting for the latter half was just, top notch, the action was bloody
and fantastic, and most of all, the ideology behind the story was
interesting to say at least.
I can't really say anything more than that since saying anything beside the trailer would be a dead giveaway, but really, wow.
I honestly don't know how the director's unique style and choices would get to the American audience, but as a person who enjoys this strange and beautiful execution of director Bong, this movie fulfilled everything i want from Bong's film an intellectual Sifi movie. It gave me a handful amount of things to think and talk about, and those kinds of movies always give me the best movie experiences. Definitely one of the must watches of this year.
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